16 Feb 2020

Abomination: Christian Hypocrisy, Homosexuality & Compassion

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Contemporary Ethics, Culture, Exegesis, Ezekiel, Grace, Hermeneutics, Love, Ministry, Sexuality

Before you read another word, the point of this post is, choose compassion. Be compassionate. Reflect compassion. Compassion, Love, first. Compassion is the beginning and the end.

Time for some honesty. I ask that you read prayerfully. An Exercise in having Eyes to See and Ears to Hear.

We conservative North American believers are an interesting lot. We love praise songs. We claim to be devoted to Jesus. We claim we are devoted to “traditional family values.” We act, typically, as if God is a capitalist. We might even think Jesus salutes the American flag and that above all God thinks that homosexual sexuality is the greatest of all sins.

Hypocrisy?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbors eye” (Jesus, Mt 7.5).

But are we (conservative North American believers) free from the charge of hypocrisy?

I would wager that a good deal of the culture of North American Evangelical type faith simply is not rooted in the biblical narrative at all. Our faith is often simply not based on a deep understanding of Scripture. Do we escape the charge of hypocrisy?

Divorce rates among conservative north American believers are the same and in some places exceed those of nonbelievers (I say this by way of lament! I am a divorcee!). See the study published by Baylor University, Evangelicals Have Higher than average Divorce Rates.

Conservative Christians often vocally condemn homosexual activity as perverted and loathed by God. Yet, adultery and fornication is as likely among Evangelicals as it is among nonbelievers. See Are Most Single Christians in America Having Sex. I was once told that a Christian Single dating site was also known as ChristianSex [dot] com.

Evangelicals are certainly open to the charge of hypocrisy when we claim that homosexual activity is somehow more detestable to God than heterosexual activity outside the covenant of marriage.

Justify Ourselves ?

We conservative believers, often, harshly condemn those who struggle with sexual identity. It is an “abomination” before God. And we quote the old KJV of Leviticus 18.22; 20.13.

Perhaps this shows, however, that we have selectively read the Scriptures. It may also reveal we religious people use the biblical text, as that religious scholar of old did, to justify ourselves.

Abomination

A person does not need to know Hebrew to grasp my point. Simply having a concordance can show that our common religious failings are in the exact same category as homosexual activity … but in an effort to feel superior we sometimes turn a blind eye to the truth.

The Hebrew for “abomination” (KJV) or “detestable” (NIV) is to’ebah. When we consult the concordance (such as Goodrick & Kohlenberger III, NIV Exhaustive Concordance), we learn that this exact same term is used many times in the Hebrew Bible.

Interestingly, it is used 21x in the book of Proverbs. Lady Wisdom tells us in Proverbs 6 that there are “six … seven things the LORD hates.” These things are an “abomination” to him (6.16, NRSV). This is the exact same term in Leviticus 19 and 20. What so interesting here is that homosexual activity is not mentioned but look what is.

There are six thing that the LORD hates,
seven that are an ABOMINATION
[to’ebah] to him:
haughty eyes,

a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that are quick to rush to evil,
a lying witness who lies,
and one who sows dissension among the family.

(Proverbs 6.16-19)

Each of these is characterized as to’ebah. Note that lying is mentioned twice. Note that arrogance is mentioned. Note the various attitudinal attacks upon relationships are mentioned. Note that causing disunity is mentioned. Note also that these seven things are routinely found in most conservative assemblies of North American believers. Yet we do not witness Facebook campaigns against these. We do not see boycotts. We do not even hear sermons on them.

But Paul …

Someone will say, “But Paul says God’s wrath is being revealed against homosexual activity in Romans 1.”

Perhaps, this is yet another example of Paul knowing his Bible and we do not. Indeed, clearly Paul does mention homosexual activity (not orientation), as does Leviticus.

However, a third of the passage is ignored and is about the stuff found in Proverbs 6 that has nothing to do with homosexuality. Paul does not single it out as more depraved than anything else. In fact, Paul lists it along with,

greed,”
“envy,”
“deceit/lying,”
“gossips”
“slanderers,”
“arrogant,”
“boastful,

(Romans 1.28-32)

all of these “deserve death” the apostle wrote in Romans 1.28-32. The apostle would go on to say (quoting the Hebrew Bible) that there is “no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3.10ff; quoting Psalm 14).

Ezekiel, Sodom and Proverbs

The Bible reveals that God really does loath those seven things. We conservatives often point to Sodom and Gomorrah to show that God especially dislikes homosexuality. God destroyed those gay people. Sometimes, we conveniently forget that the Holy Spirit point blank tells us the exact sin of Sodom and it is forgotten by us. Ezekiel tells us what it was.

NOW THIS WAS THE SIN of your sister Sodom:
She was arrogant,
overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy.
They were haughty and did detestable things before me
…”
(Ezekiel 16.49-50)

It is hard to get a clearer statement than “now this was the sin of your sister Sodom.

Notice how this text never explicitly mentions homosexual activity (it may be implied but some scholars debate that in the context of Ezekiel). Some might claim it is in the word “detestable.” Interestingly, this is the same exact term that is used in both Leviticus 18.22/20.13 and Proverbs 6.16-19 quoted above.

The abominations are:

arrogance,
self indulgence,
lack of care for the poor
.

These are just as much an abomination as the homosexual activity. And this is why God destroyed Sodom.

If we read Ezekiel, the Lord makes it clear that Israel’s sin is even worse than that of Sodom (16.51ff) yet there is no suggestion that Judah’s sin in this passage is homosexual activity.

Now I do not deny there was homosexual activity at Sodom, other biblical texts make this clear. I am simply pointing out what is stated in black and white in the biblical text, it is not singled out in Ezekiel nor Paul.

But we conservatives do not like that. It makes “us” like “them.”

It is part of the fallen human condition to want to feel morally superior to “those” people (whoever “those” people may be). But Scripture puts the arrogant, self-righteous, north American believer in the same place as “those” we bitterly condemn. Often our bitter rantings (and that is what they often are) are projections of our own prejudices not that that person is any worse than the arrogant, gossips, greedy, overfed, people welcomed with open arms in our churches.

Following Jesus’s Example

Jesus’s interaction with Levi (Mt 9.9-13); the “woman at the well” (Jn 4); and the “woman caught in the act” (Jn .7.53-8.11) ought to weigh heavily on our interaction with any human being, regardless of the circumstances. Likewise our Lord’s upbraiding of the religious people of his day should echo in our ears (cf. Matthew 23).

We Evangelical and Restoration Christians need a massive dose of humility. We need to revisit the notion of grace once again. We, all of us, are sinners before the holy God. Jesus loves the homosexual sinner as much as he loves those who, in the words of Ezekiel, are “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned for the poor.

When we are convinced, that we ourselves have nothing in our hands to bring but simply “to thy cross” we cling, we will be far more welcoming of other sinners no matter from which direction they come.

a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench
…” (Isaiah 42.3)

May the gentle compassion of Jesus flow through us to all who are “bruised” in their lives and hearts.

Having Eyes to See and Ears to Hear. Always side with mercy, always practice love.

(On the term to’ebah see, New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, edited Willem A. VanGemeren, vol 4, pp.314-318)

11 Responses to “Abomination: Christian Hypocrisy, Homosexuality & Compassion”

  1. Bill Long Says:

    Your observations are very good. I don’t know if you can call everyone who opposes any sin hypocritical All are guilty of sin but that doesn’t mean sin should go unopposed oe unexposed. The tone of your article would lead to that conclusion. Let’s all admit we are sinners saved by Gods grace BUT LETS OPPOSE ALL SIN rather than condone by silence any sin. Helping me see my sin is a blessing to me. The same is true with any of us. We want to please Father and that includes love for all and a loving attitude toward all as we encourage or teach one another

  2. David Dotson Says:

    Well written; thanks.
    Just because we all sin differently doesn’t make sin any less of a sin.
    I’m not sure where same-sex marriage falls into this mix other than many ministers/pastors are being sued for refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

  3. john acuff Says:

    Even when you are right as you so often are your shrill voice is hard to hear. Could you think about that and how you might be able to communicate better with a less strident voice. And if you shoot back at me I ll understand it is just how you are and forgive you.

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      John always glad to have you read. But what exactly do you consider to be “shrill” and “strident” in this blog?

      Have you read Matthew 23 lately?

      But it was not my purpose to be strident but to be honest.

  4. Martha Dickson Says:

    I noticed that when you were talking about what Paul had to say in Romans 1, when you started to say what Paul was talking about what or who was deserving of death, you seem to limit it to the verses 28 & following. It would seem like (strongly) that he is still talking about those who he mentioned in verses 26 & following (& as well as all this way up to verse 18. I see where you are trying to go with all this. Yes, there is to be love for the person & not their sin. Jesus has done that. He went to the cross for all. But truth stands. God has said who will who won’t enter into Eternal Life. From the Old Testament to Revelation, in black & Red (blood) is the who. The gate is narrow. Instead of spending so much time debating on the wording of how Paul or another inspired writer said what, how about trying to teach the gospel to this lost!

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      I did not limit my discussion to only vv. 28 and following. I referenced the whole chapter in general and noted explicitly he mentions homosexual activity. The point was that we tend to ignore the fact that Paul does not make homosexual activity more grievous than those items itemized by the apostle in vv.28ff. We pretend those verse do not exist.

      Truth does stand. Ezekiel 16.19 and Proverbs 6.16ff are true.

  5. Kenny Graham SR Says:

    Romans 1 is about God’s view of sin in general and a few are listed as examples. The recipients of his anger (they, them, their, are used over 20 times) are those who “suppress the truth about God”. Interesting that chapter 2 starts with the accusation that the church at Rome (some of them) were quite hypocritical of these “sinners “ and lived no different than the ones they were critiquing…the point of your article I believe.

  6. Jan Leonard Says:

    Good article. I’ve always thought that by condemning the “crime” of homosexuality, we ourselves are committing another one… arrogance. And when we ignore them, we find it a lot easier to ignore others..the homeless on the corner, the poor who don’t have enough to eat, etc. Stop and see if they’re hungry; buy them a meal. As far as the poor go, donate to the food pantry near you; buy extra canned or fresh food and take it to them. They are so very grateful.And take the time to pray with them!! I personally know a couple of gays.. they are no different than anyone else. We can share the gospel with them. When they finally believe, then is the time to gently introduce God’s word on the subject. Then it’s time to cover the sins that keep us all from God…including homosexuality. Thank you.

  7. Brad Landis Says:

    My observation is that Jesus was very strong against those in power, but when he called common people from sin (usually after healing them), he did so with gentleness and hope. It’s not too difficult to get that upside down, and playing politics, perhaps even accepting the sin of the powerful, but using strong, condemnation language for the culturally unacceptable sins. We’ve failed to give them hope of new creation. I believe we’re getting better than we were 50 years ago, at least in some places, but there’s still a long way to go.

  8. Dwight Says:

    Bobby, I think there is a push back in preaching, in some regards, to homosexuality over other sins due to the push for homosexuality over other sins. Homosexuality, and LBTQ, etc. is not only pushed in society, but largely applauded and praised, which many still regard things like lying, being prideful, even among the homosexual community as moral wrongs.
    This is not to say you are not right and that we need to preach on all sin as wrong, but some sin is making a bigger enchroachment within the churches than other sins, to where homosexuality is no longer a sin, but the other things are.
    Just an observation.

  9. Ron Says:

    I agree with your conclusion but still have some unanswered questions. There is a couple of things that you did not address in your article. First, When the two male angels entered Lots home and the people wanted Lot to send them out so they could have relations with them, Lot offered his virgin daughters to prevent the homosexual act from happening. What other sin has such a price been offered to prevent the sin from happening? Another example of such a deed is found in Judges chapter 19. The old man of Gibeah took some traveling strangers into his home. Men came and wanted the travelers to come out so they they could have relations with them. The old man instead offered his virgin daughter and the strangers concubine who he had just taken earlier. The stranger eventually sent out his concubine and found her the next morning dead with her hands on the threshold of the door. Gibeah was of the tribe of Benjamin. The stranger took the dead body home, cut her into twelve pieces and sent them to the other tribes with an explanation as to what happened. This resulted in a civil war against Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin. Again, what other sin has such examples been given or prices paid to prevent the sin from happening? Then I am reminded of Jude verse 7, “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” I could be wrong, but it just seems to me that with all that is given on the topic this particular sin has to be near the top of the chart. But yes in dealing with them use love and compassion. I know several who are oriented this way but because of their love for God remain abstinent. Condeming first is not the right approach.

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